When supply chain disruptions emerge, health systems and supply chain leaders have become adept at managing by identifying alternative products, expanding on-hand inventory and adopting conservation strategies. However with COVID-19, the need to plan for future surges requires tools that enable more accurate projections for essential medications and other critical supplies.

In response, Vizient offers several calculators, available to all members, to offer actionable intelligence into how quickly supplies are currently being consumed, expected future demand, and how much those supplies cost.

More specifically, calculators are available to help members calculate personal protective equipment burn rate and how different conservation strategies will impact utilization, anticipate future demand for medications required for ventilator patients as well as offer insight into supply price quantity mix.

Understanding PPE Consumption

Ensuring adequate PPE for frontline providers, hospital staff and administrators, including respirators, gloves, face shields and gowns has proved challenging during the pandemic. To help providers, Vizient developed the PPE conservation impact calculator. The tool was created using Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration guidelines but fill some of the gaps that other, similar tools don’t address.

The calculator enables members to calculate their use of PPE using several scenarios that can impact burn rate. It also allows members to evaluate conservation strategies for specific products, such as how adopting a no-cosmetics policy could improve mask conservation.

“How a member would evaluate conservation strategies for gloves is very different than for N95 masks,” says Beth Godsey, vice president, data science and methodology. “The same conservation strategies won’t apply to all products, so I think that flexibility and the specificity of individual factors within the conservation strategy has been very helpful for members.”

Godsey believes the calculator has value beyond COVID-19. For example, members can evaluate the impact of reopening elective procedures on PPE use or make decisions about more global PPE practices based on the hospital’s needs and patient population.

Projecting Ventilator Medication Demand

COVID-19 has created unprecedented demand for ventilators and the associated medications required to support mechanically ventilated patients. In partnership with member Ochsner Health, Vizient’s Pharmacy Solutions team has developed a free tool to accurately project additional demand for these medications over a four-week period, by total dosage and by quantity.

Members work with a Vizient pharmacy advisor to provide several inputs. Those inputs include the current number of COVID patients on ventilation, estimates of expected patients for the upcoming four weeks, typical dosage for each drug and expected utilization of each drug.

Once the inputs are gathered, the report details how many milligrams or micrograms of each drug a health system needs, week by week for four weeks. The report also predicts how many vials of each product the facility should purchase.

“We’ve heard from members that the tool is quick and easy to navigate and provides accurate and objective data to help guide planning and purchasing efforts,” says Larry Huang, manager, pharmacy analytics for Vizient.

Beyond the results of the ventilator medication demand projection tool, Huang emphasizes that members also receive the full support of Vizient pharmacy experts. Advisors work with members to help ensure they get the medications they need. For example, if a medication is on protective allocation, the projection tool data can be used to advocate for additional allocation from the supplier.

Members can request as many analyses as they need and virtually any member can benefit from the ventilator medication demand projection tool.

“We’ve had requests for analyses from members who have received a lot of COVID-19 patients and want to better predict medication needs down the road,” says Huang. “Smaller and rural hospitals that haven’t had any COVID patients yet have also benefitted from the calculator. These hospitals want to start the planning process early so they’re not overwhelmed.”

Calculating Price Quantity Mix

Greater visibility into pharmacy spend can uncover savings opportunities and inform smarter purchasing decisions. Vizient’s price quantity mix (PQM) calculator monitors pharmacy spend changes over customizable time periods by price, quantity and/or changes in purchase behavior.

The PQM calculator was initially only available to Vizient Savings Actualizer™ - Pharmacy module subscribers, but Vizient saw the value of the tool in the early stages of COVID-19 and began offering it to all members. 

“We were looking at the first quarter of 2019 versus the first quarter of 2020 and tracking the variation in pricing volume across multiple service lines. We could see the exponential growth of certain products used to treat COVID-19 patients and how those product shifts were impacting the member,” said Richard Ponder, MBA, senior director, Vizient pharmacy analytics product delivery. “Because of that, we made the decision to offer the calculator functionality to all Vizient pharmacy program participants.”

The timely data from the PQM reports has generated actionable insights for roughly 100 members since COVID-19 began in March. One Midwest health system didn’t realize that some of its affiliate hospitals had started to receive COVID-19 patients until the data showed an increase in medications used to treat the virus.

Other members used the PQM data to move respiratory medications around based on purchase data after they realized they had extra stock in different locations. On the back end, PQM reports have helped to quantify the cost of COVID-19, which has helped organizations apply for grants or get reinforcements through the FEMA grant programs.

After a PQM report is developed, a Vizient pharmacy advisor and/or a member of the pharmacy team walks the member through the information to help the organization extract the full value from the data. The advisor can help develop a plan of action and share knowledge of best practices, allowing health systems to make informed product decisions.

Historically, conducting a price mix analysis has been a very manual and time-consuming process for health systems. “We’ve had several members sign up for subscription services after we’ve shown them the PQM calculator because that one function of the Pharmacy Savings Actualyzer can pull hours of work off their plates,” Ponder says.

In addition, with the biosimilars calculator, members can choose from a comprehensive portfolio of contracted biosimilars to help mitigate drug costs. The calculator comes with resources such as templates to manage biosimilar uptake, education and market insights.

Calculating potential COVID surge demand

Sg2’s COVID-19 surge demand calculator is a scenario planning tool that calculates market-specific, age-adjusted projections of non-ICU bed, ICU and ventilator demand, based on varying transmission rates, mitigation and containment strategies. The calculator incorporates infectious disease modeling specific to COVID-19 and has been vetted by hospital systems, Vizient biostatisticians, and epidemiologic and pandemic experts.

The calculator enables users to identify where the market is on the timeline of the COVID-19 infection outbreak based on first known community-acquired COVID-19 hospitalization date. It also enables users to understand the impact of varying rates of disease spread, including scenarios that consider social distancing efforts.

To learn more about Vizient’s solutions to improve supply chain performance, contact us at (800) 842-5146 or supplychain@vizientinc.com.

Published: August 19, 2020